Friday, August 22, 2014

Sardar 1993

This riveting biopic portrays the events leading to independence and partition. Excellent direction, competent acting and the inherent interest in this historical drama make this a learning experience worth the investment of nearly three hours.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nishant 1975 Benegal

A schoolmaster's wife is abducted and  held captive by the sons of a feudal landlord, in Telangana countryside, in the earlier part of previous century. The story culminates in a small  uprising of the villagers leading to the destruction of the landlord's family.  Perhaps the strongest performance is by Amrish Puri, as the villainous landlord. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bose the Forgotten Hero Benegal 2004

This is atypical Benegal, though one senses the confident directorial touch through long patches. It is three and a half hours long, and one's patience is finally exhausted, specially in the battle scenes in the last hour: which is to say that ones curiosity to learn about this less told history sustains interest sufficiently to sail to the end. This may best be described as a Bollywood epic, and the initial two thirds is enjoyable, liberally peppered with ribaldry and humor, not to mention sentimentality of the tear jerking type. Romance also finds a niche. But I certainly come out with a clear outline picture of the events narrated as well as sketches of the personalities involved. It is no mean achievement to have conceived and made this movie. Rahman's beautiful score is a not the least of attractions.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Particle Fever 2013

The LHC (large hadron collides) is a monumental machine built over 20 years at a cost of five billion dollars to further results about the structure of matter. Though the subject is far too advanced for anyone but specialists, the movie conveys the excitement and passion of scientific research, as well as its collaborative nature at its present stage of development, involving thousands of people. The LHC is claimed to involve team work on a scale comparable to the pyramids.

The present film describes experiments to confirm the existence and mass of the Higgs Boson, a subatomic particle crucial for the advance of studies related to the nature of the universe (the elusive particle is also nick named "god particle" in the media, which makes those working on it squirm). The film ends in the triumphant confirmation of its existence in 2012. Its mass, speculated between 115 and 140 proton masses, would determine which of two theories about the cosmos are tenable. A lighter mass would favor "super symmetry" whereas a higher one would favor "multiverses". The latter would spell a bleak future for the field, a roadblock dreaded by its practitioners. But then the LHC comes out with a joyful value of 125 or so, favoring neither theory, leaving the field of research wide open.

A highly informative, nicely filmed, documentary.

"The things which have absolutely no value for survival are the very things that make us human."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Making of the Mahatma 1996 Shyam Benegal

Between Attenborough's and Benegal's biopics there is little to choose: they are complementary. Both are excellent and very different. Attenborough's has an epic sweep through English eyes: Benegal's is more intimate and very human. It deals with the years in S Africa till he left for the larger canvas of India., The film gives an authentic portrayal of the many decisive turning points of the years in Africa. Rajit Kapur and Pallavi Joshi are outstanding in lead roles. Benegal is a director with a sure touch for the Indian psyche, and the expanse of vision to portray historical events. This is seen not only in his feature films but also in his miniseries.